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Researchers Find Protein That Could Control Weight Loss and Lead To Radical New Treatments For Obesity

Monday, December 29, 2014

Researchers have uncovered a protein they say controls how the body produces fat cells.

Called Thy1 it has a fundamental role in controlling whether a primitive cell decides to become a fat cell, the Daily Mail reports. Experts say it could be harnessed in obesity treatments.

We believe that weight gain is not necessarily just a result of eating more and exercising less, said lead author Richard Phipps of the University of Rochester. The Rochester team discovered that a protein, Thy1, has a fundamental role in controlling whether a primitive cell decides to become a fat cell, making Thy1 a possible therapeutic target, according to a study published online this month by the FASEB Journal.

Read More: Researchers Find Protein That Could Control Weight Loss and Lead To Radical New Treatments For Obesity

Decoding Fat Cells: Discovery May Explain Why We Gain Weight

Thursday, December 11, 2014

University of Rochester researchers believe they’re on track to solve the mystery of weight gain – and it has nothing to do with indulging in holiday eggnog.

hey discovered that a protein, Thy1, has a fundamental role in controlling whether a primitive cell decides to become a fat cell, making Thy1 a possible therapeutic target, according to a study published online this month by the FASEB Journal.

The research brings a new, biological angle to a problem that’s often viewed as behavioral, said lead author Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D. In fact, some diet pills consist of antidepressants or anti-addiction medications, and do not address what’s happening at the molecular level to promote fat cell accumulation.

Read More: Decoding Fat Cells: Discovery May Explain Why We Gain Weight

URMC Researchers Receive $6.1M to Develop LungMAP

Thursday, October 30, 2014

researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center have launched a five-year effort to develop such a map. The project, called the Human Lung Molecular Atlas Program, or LungMAP, includes researchers from several other institutions and is supported by more than $20 million from the National Institutes of Health, $6.1 million of which was awarded to URMC.

With a detailed map of human lung development, health care providers will be able to more readily identify children who may be at risk for lung problems. For example, physicians know that infants who are born prematurely are more likely to develop emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adulthood or later in life.

But we don’t always know which ones, or how severe their complications will be, said Gloria Pryhuber, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine and the study’s lead researcher at URMC. So that’s what this is really all about — we need to know more about how the lung is formed and heals normally, in order to encourage pre-term infants to develop more normally, and to help adult lungs to heal from diseases like pneumonia and emphysema.

Read More: URMC Researchers Receive $6.1M to Develop LungMAP

Communities Considering Fracking Face Questions

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A new report examines potential health-related issues facing communities in areas of the country suitable for natural gas extraction. The hope is that the study, which was coauthored by Katrina Korfmacher, director of the University's Environmental Health Sciences Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement Core, will shape future research around communities’ health questions and inform their decision-making.

Read More: Communities Considering Fracking Face Questions

Environmental Health Sciences Center Summer 2014 Newsletter Now Available

Monday, August 11, 2014

The University of Rochester Environmental Health Sciences Center Summer 2014 newsletter is now available.

Topics highlighted in this newsletter include:

Recent findings linking air pollution to Autism and Schizophrenia

Environmental Health Sciences Center Updates

  • Increasing Awareness of Chemicals in Personal Care Products
  • Research and Local Activism Address the Health Effects of Tobacco Smoke
  • March of Dimes Symposium: Early-life Exposures
  • Environmental Epigenomics Workshop
  • Enhancing Perinatal Environmental Health Education

Recognitions and Awards

New Center faculty and Toxicology graduate students

Please feel free to read the entire EHSC Newsletter.

Read More: Environmental Health Sciences Center Summer 2014 Newsletter Now Available

Researchers Awarded $2.1M to Study E-Cigarettes

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thomas J. Mariani, Ph.D. and other researchers at the Medical Center have commenced a study that will be used to help shape the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations on e-cigarettes, hookahs, and miniature cigars in the coming years. Read More...Read More: Researchers Awarded $2.1M to Study E-Cigarettes

New Evidence Links Air Pollution to Autism, Schizophrenia

Friday, June 6, 2014

New research from the University of Rochester Medical Center describes how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia.

The new findings are consistent with several recent studies that have shown a link between air pollution and autism in children. Most notably, a 2013 study in JAMA Psychiatry reported that children who lived in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism.

Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders, said Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Read More: New Evidence Links Air Pollution to Autism, Schizophrenia

Brian Palmer Wins Two Awards at Toxicology Retreat

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Brian Palmer with Award

Brian Palmer

Congratulations to Brian Palmer, a Toxicology graduate student in Lisa DeLouise's lab on winning two awards at the Annual Toxicology Retreat. Brian won the department 'Question" Award given to the student who asks the most insightful questions throughout the year at department seminars and also won the McGregor Award for best poster presentation by a first year graduate student.

Toxicology PhD Program Holds Annual Retreat

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Louis Guillette Jr., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina, is the keynote speaker at the Department of Environmental Medicine Toxicology PhD Program annual retreat today. Guillette's talk, "Health or Disease: Environmental Contaminants, Epigenetics and the Developing Embryo" starts at 11 a.m. in the Class of '62 Auditorium (G-9425), Medical Center. Platform presentations will follow from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the Ryan Case Method Room (1-9576) and a poster session will be held from 3 to 4:30 in Flaum Atrium.

Workshop on Environmental Epigenomics

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On April 24th the department of Environmental Medicine, in conjunction with the NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Center held a Workshop on Environmental Epigenomics in the URMC. Among the numerous colleagues and attendees were Dr. Trevor Archer (NIEHS), Dr. Cheryl Walker (Texas A&M), Dr. Dana Dolinoy (University of Michigan), and Dr. Moshe Szyf (McGill University).  The event was organized in part by Dr. Irfan Rahman

See here for photos from the event.

Air Pollution Exposure May Increase Risk of Autism, Schizophrenia

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Air pollution exposure has long been suspected to increase the risk of both heart and lung diseases, but another important organ may also be at risk of injury from this contaminated air: the brain. Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago recently detailed the impact that constant exposure to air pollution may have on the developing brain. According to the panel, a series of mouse models have suggested that constant inhalation of air pollution may lead to enlargement of the brain’s ventricles – a hallmark of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

According to the organizer of the panel, Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta, air pollution is a cocktail of various metals and gases, often consisting of many different sized particles. The larger particles typically do not pose a risk to the body, as they are often coughed up and disposed, but the very small particles are the ones that health experts say pose the biggest health threat.

The component people worry about the most are the smallest particles – the ultrafine particles, Cory-Slechta, professor in the department of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. And the reason is because those go all the way down into the bottom of the lung. Once they get to the bottom of the lung, they can be absorbed into the blood stream.

Read More: Air Pollution Exposure May Increase Risk of Autism, Schizophrenia

Rahman Group's Study Featured on the February 2014 Cover of the Journal of Proteome Research

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cover of the Journal of Proteome Research

 

Exposure to cigarette smoke is known to cause changes in the chromatin -- the complex of DNA and proteins that make up a cell's nucleus. This can lead to chronic lung disease. UR researchers Irfan Rahman, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Pulmonary Diseases, and Alan Friedman, Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine, are shedding light on the role of histones in this process. Histones are key proteins that pass along genetic information from parents to children, play a role in gene expression, and act as spools for DNA to wind around.

Their study, featured on the cover of the Journal of Proteome Research (February 2014), reports that cigarette smoke induces specific post translational modifications in histones H3 and H4, which could serve as biomarkers to help identify and predict chronic lung diseases (COPD and lung cancer) induced by cigarette smoke. Their data may also help in our understanding of the epigenetic changes that occur during the development of these diseases.

Read More: Rahman Group's Study Featured on the February 2014 Cover of the Journal of Proteome Research

Dr. Irfan Rahman's Article About the "Grandmother" Clock Featured on Cover of FASEB Journal

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cover of FASEB Journal

 

The Clockmaker, c. 1735, color engraving, Engelbrecht, Martin (1684–1756). Engelbrecht, a noted print-seller and engraver, was best known for his miniature theater dioramas. Eight scenery-like cards are inserted into a peep-box, aligned one behind the other, creating a three-dimensional view. These popular home-theaters have been cited by photographers and cinematographers for their dramatic optical effects. Some even suggest that they are forerunners of cable television. Our grandmother clock, an 18th-century Rococo extravaganza of ormolu scrolls and miniature dragons, stands stage center against a backdrop of cedar trees. Her body consists of two timepieces: one resting on her bosomy mantel and the other, a longcase model resting on curlicued paws. In her right hand, she dangles a pendulum—perhaps a reference to Galileo's discovery. The theatrical image may also be a tribute to Engelbrecht's hometown of Augsburg, the chief supplier of highly ornamental clocks to all of Europe. In this issue, we learn how tobacco smoke disrupts the circadian rhythm of clock gene expression, increasing lung inflammation to produce emphysema in mice via sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)-dependent acetylation of the core clock gene, brain and muscle aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator-like 1 (BMAL1). Image courtesy of Bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs, Paris, France/Archives Charmet/Bridgeman Art Library; Ann Weissmann, fine arts editor.

Environmental Medicine professor, Irfan Rahman's current article has been featured on the cover of the Journal of The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The article, entitled Circadian clock function is disrupted by environmental tobacco/cigarette smoke, leading to lung inflammation and injury via a SIRT1-BMAL1 pathway, deals with patients with obstructive lung diseases display abnormal circadian rhythms in lung function. The Rahman lab determined the mechanism whereby environmental tobacco/cigarette smoke (CS) modulates expression of the core clock gene BMAL1, through Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) deacetylase during lung inflammatory and injurious responses.

Want To Sleep Peacefully? Quit Smoking, Study

Friday, January 3, 2014

A University of Rochester study has found that smokers can have a good night's sleep just by giving up the habit. Researchers said that smoking leads to sleep deprivation, depression and anxiety, cognitive decline and mood disorders. Lack of sleep can result in lethargy, crankiness and bad temper.

This study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function, Dr. Irfan Rahman from the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York said in a press release. We envisage that our findings will be the basis for future developments in the treatment of those patients who are suffering with tobacco smoke-mediated injuries and diseases.

Bethany Winans Receives Young Investigator Award

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bethany Winans, a graduate student in the Lawrence lab received an American Association of Immunologists Young Investigator Award at the New York Immunology Conference in Bolton Landing, NY.

Congrats Bethany!

Paige Lawrence Receives New R01 Grant from NIEHS

Monday, September 30, 2013

Dr. Paige Lawrence, professor in the departments of Environmental Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology has received a new R01 grant from the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), entitled Transgenerational exposures as modifiers of host defense against infection.

Along with UR Collaborators Steve Gill, Ph.D. and Sally Thurston, Ph.D., this project will explore exposure to pollutants can cause transgenerational changes in biological processes and contribute to disease. Since very little of this research has focused on transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of changes in immune function, the proposed research will direct address this deficit, and will study how a family of common pollutants perturbs the development and function of the immune system across generations.

The objective of this project is to define key parameters involved in transgenerational inheritance of alterations in the function of the mammalian immune system that occur as a result of environmental exposure. The immune system is fundamentally important to public and individual health, and even slight modifications in its function can have a profoundly negative impact on health and disease. For instance, influenza virus infections pose significant global health threats, infecting over 1 billion people annually. Evidence points to prenatal and early life exposure to pollutants as overlooked contributors to poorer clinical outcomes following influenza and other respiratory infections.

Study: No Link Between Mercury Exposure and Autism-like Behaviors

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Since the mid-1980s, the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) has studied potential health effects of methylmercury (MeHg) in Seychelles islanders. Most recently, SCDS director Dr. Edwin van Wijngaarden studied whether there might be a link between a mother’s MeHg level during labor and autism-like behaviors in her child. As reported in this news release, Dr. van Wijngaarden and his colleagues found no association between fetal exposure to MeHg and autism-like symptoms in children. Read more...Read More: Study: No Link Between Mercury Exposure and Autism-like Behaviors

Beijing Olympics Provides Rare Window into Air Pollution’s Effect on Health

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A team of researchers has taken advantage of the unique circumstances surrounding the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China to examine the link between air pollution and health. The result of their study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows a direct correlation between pollution levels and specific physiological changes that increase risk for cardiovascular disease.

This study clearly shows that a large scale intervention to reduce air pollution can have an immediate positive effect on health, said David Q. Rich, Sc.D., M.P.H., first author of the study and an epidemiologist with the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Community and Preventive Medicine. As air quality improved during the games in Beijing, markers of key biological pathways associated with cardiovascular disease also improved, demonstrating that – even in healthy young Beijing residents – there are specific mechanistic links between air pollution and cardiovascular health.

Read More: Beijing Olympics Provides Rare Window into Air Pollution’s Effect on Health

Rochester Scientist Leads National Fight against Lead

Friday, January 13, 2012

When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needed a scientist to lead the panel charged with making recommendations regarding hazardous levels of lead in children, they turned to one of Rochester’s own.

Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine and an internationally recognized authority on the hazards of lead, was co-chair of the CDC panel that last week recommended slashing the level of lead that should be considered as the point for intervention by physicians and public health authorities.

Read More: Rochester Scientist Leads National Fight against Lead

Long-Term Health Effects of Environmental Factors Is Focus of New $1.75-Million Study

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How exposure to chemicals and other environmental factors from the earliest months of life – even before we are born – affect our long-term health is the subject of a new five-year study by a scientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

B. Paige Lawrence, Ph.D., associate professor of Environmental Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology, has been awarded $1.75 million by the National Institutes of Health to study how early exposure to factors in the environment affect our immune system.

Read More: Long-Term Health Effects of Environmental Factors Is Focus of New $1.75-Million Study

Pinpointing Air Pollution’s Effects on the Heart

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scientists are untangling how the tiniest pollution particles – which we take in with every breath we breathe – affect our health, making people more vulnerable to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. While scientists know that air pollution can aggravate heart problems, showing exactly how it does so has been challenging.

In a study published recently in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists showed that in people with diabetes, breathing ultrafine particles can activate platelets, cells in the blood that normally reduce bleeding from a wound, but can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Read More: Pinpointing Air Pollution’s Effects on the Heart

$8 Million Boosts Environmental Health Sciences Center

Friday, March 19, 2010

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center who are exploring the health effects of environmental agents have received $8 million in new funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue their work for five more years.

The investigators who make up the Environmental Health Sciences Center study the effects on our bodies of a myriad of substances and compounds. There is no shortage of research topics. Mercury, lead, air pollutants, pesticides, plastics, copper, cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, and nanoparticles found in products like perfumes and sunscreens are some of the substances under scrutiny.

The latest funding means the center’s work protecting people from environmental threats will have been continuously funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for 40 years - from 1975, when the center was founded during President Ford’s administration, to 2015. It’s the longest-running research center funded by any NIH institute at the University.

Read More: $8 Million Boosts Environmental Health Sciences Center